Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Trouble in the kitchen

I got in a little bit of trouble the other day. I'd whipped up a batch of lemon cheesecakes and some lemon curd, packed my little babies into containers and took some out to work. I handed out jars of curd for folks to devour in their own time (and apparently, straight out of the jar in a few decadent mouthfuls). I had 2 for lunch that day, with fresh curd on top. I'd used butter nut snap biscuits this time for the base, which turned out fabulously! So, where was the trouble? Innocent, blind little me. I'd forgotten how food can make people feel special. My special person in my life had loved these morsels when I first baked them for him.  They made him feel loved, the warm lemon texture of the cakes straight out of the oven had surrendered him to love, carried him off to that very special place where the inner chatter stops completely. Joy. My mistake was that I was giving away this love and joy. It took me a few days to understand why he was upset - because I'd made them for him and that made him feel special. I'd poured my love in with the soft ribbons of whipped cream cheese and while I did know this, I didn't consciously know this. If you know what I mean.

My understanding is greater now. I know the powerful effect food can have on the soul. It's not always a rational thing. Biting into a warm lemon yoghurt cake this morning, dusted with icing sugar had the effect of 're-setting' my senses. The warmth of the cake, the icing sugar going up my nose and my hot cup of tea was nurturing. Time slowed. Alone in my  kitchen with my recipes books sprawled across the kitchen table, I felt happy.

So, with my new found understanding of food and my man I will keep a few things just for him, for family and our own special comfort that we all need at times. Time to go searching for a new recipe that will melt his big heart.

Recipe for Lemon Yoghurt Cake [Click here]

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Winter mojo

Seems like my mojo has taken a winter break. It's sped off into the wet and grey day, looking for greener pastures, or new ideas maybe. At any rate, my cooking mojo disappeared without so much as a 'see ya, I'll be back later'. My little man left on a jetplane to sunnier climes for 12 weeks, maybe he took it with him, disabling me to cook without him here. Or maybe my heart just sank like the carrot cake last week. It sank deeply and profoundly. In total disgust I threw it in the bin (the cake that is). My heart, well, it still beats but without a major arterial. 
You can never really prepare yourself for these things. I'd been so positive for my boy, telling him how great it will be in Arnhem Land, soul country for many Indigenous Australians. What a wonderful experience he'll have, with his dad, little brother and step-mum. Such an adventure for an 11 year old boy, soon to be stepping out into that manly world. My friend Danni said it was like an initiation - going out bush with the Yolgnu people, learning language and culture that only a few white fellas get the privilege of learning.  
As a single mum of nearly 10 years, I know that it is a great thing and his world will be so enriched. 
In my quiet moments, I have the time to reflect on my life. A rare thing for a parent to do at length. Who are we without our children? It's more about purpose I think, for example I now have no purpose to bake. No little ankle biters to feed after school. No little man to cheer up with chicken soup and a warm afternoon tea cake straight from the oven, drizzled with buttery cinnamon sugar....

on his way up...
So, I need to look outwards, see what I can do. Tomorrow is 'Baking Our Blues Away' annual day of good will. I've attempted my 2nd cake this week - so far so good. It's called the Lazy-Ass Cake from www.onionringsandthings.com. Surely nothing can go wrong! Teamed with Donna Hay's Chocolate cream cheese frosting and some blueberries on top, I hope to put a smile on others faces at least. That makes me smile. 
Purpose is a good thing. Good to have and even better to find. With purpose I shall bake, for others. One of the main reasons I like to cook is for other people. Nothing like food to warm hearts. Think I might go and make some lemon curd for my mum...


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Say Cheese - Cake!

Cheesecake - you either love it or hate it. My old school friend Shanta never liked it because she couldn't get over the fact that cake had 'cheese' in it. It is a bit strange if you look at it like that. I can't imagine a delicious sweet dessert with a reggiano parmesan! I remember trying to convince her otherwise - I wonder to this day if she now likes cheesecake. We don't catch up often but these are the peculiar things I dredge up from my memory...Maybe when we do meet up again I will make her this recipe (I won't tell her it's cheesecake!).

I've always loved cheesecake - the creamy sweetness of the filling topped with lemon curd and a chocolate base to crank things up a bit! Depending on your recipe, cheesecakes can take ages and need a range of ingredients - lots of sour cream & cream, all whipped up and aerated. This little gem can be made in an hour and as they are individual servings, they are a perfect little dessert or snack. I made them a few weeks ago and my partner said they were the best thing he has ever eaten. I took a bite and it was like marshmallow (but way better), it floated down my throat. Pure food ecstasy.

Individual Baked Cheesecakes [Print Recipe]


9 Marie Biscuits (or any of your favourites)
2 tsp cocoa
80g butter (approx. depending on what biscuits you use)

250g cream cheese - room temperature
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/4 dessicated coconut
2 Tblsp fresh lemon (or orange) juice
1 tsp coconut essence (or lemon)
2 eggs
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 160C. Line a muffin tray with 9 scalloped muffin cups.
Crush biscuits, add cocoa and melted butter. Check the mix just stays together on your finger. Put in fridge while you make the filling.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, coconut, lemon juice & essence until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time until combined. Divide the mix among the cups and bake for 25 mins or until just set. Turn the oven off and leave cheesecakes in the oven with the door ajar until completely cooled.

Remove and dust with icing sugar - or top with lemon curd if you like. Chocolate ganache would make for a decadent dessert!

Try these little babies, I have taken them out to work twice  now and they have been devoured, lovingly. The ultimate test will be my old school buddy, I reckon I can convert her for sure!


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Plums!

It took me the best part of the afternoon to decide what to do with my freshly picked plums... I got lost in a sea of Internet recipes and wonderful blogs.....I read about one blogger who suffers depression and finds solace in cooking. She is not alone there. I find cooking such a heart-warming and uplifting past-time. Sometimes I listen to tunes, other times I bake in silence just listening to the kids outside, the odd car driving past and usually the south westerly wind that blows the leaves down my driveway.  Baking makes me happy in ways that are soulful. I don't even have to eat any of what I cook, I like the process plain and simple. Although, the rewards I've gotta say, are usually always good.

Today, I had a mission. A heap of wonderful dark plums, picked from the trees at one of my current workplaces'. At times I am incredibly indecisive - today is one of them. So many choices! My original idea was to make a strawberry vanilla tart and use plums instead, but some little voice inside my head (that got extremely loud mind you) told me to keep looking. I stumbled across The Bojon Gourmet, who not only had the most luscious sounding dessert but won me over with the photos. Always judge a dessert by its cover....well nearly always, yes. She had adapted it from a book called 'Pure Dessert' and I in turn adapted them both! Very easy to make with all the ingredients in the pantry. I have to wait to taste because I'm taking it to a bbq....ok, I might have just tried a little bit, really....